October 08, 2008
Obama as a Legislator

Charlie Peters founded The Washington Monthly and edited it until his retirement in 2001. A “relentless centrist,” he focussed all his life not on party but on process. How does government actually work or not work? If the latter, how can it be fixed?

When Charlie speaks on this topic, he is worth listening to. Particularly when he speaks about a legislator who is being regularly accused of legislative ineffectiveness by a man whose own legislative successes, considering how long he has been in Congress, are negligible.

Enough already. Read:

…It had not been easy for a Harvard man to become a regular guy to his colleagues. Obama had managed to do so by playing basketball and poker with them and, most of all, by listening to their concerns. Even Republicans came to respect him. One Republican state senator, Kirk Dillard, has said that “Barack had a way both intellectually and in demeanor that defused skeptics.”

Obama proved persuasive enough that the bill passed both houses of the legislature, the Senate by an incredible 35 to 0. Then he talked Blagojevich into signing the bill, making Illinois the first state to require such videotaping.

Obama didn’t stop there. He played a major role in passing many other bills, including the state’s first earned-income tax credit to help the working poor and the first ethics and campaign finance law in 25 years (a law a Post story said made Illinois “one of the best in the nation on campaign finance disclosure”). Obama’s commitment to ethics continued in the U.S. Senate, where he co-authored the new lobbying reform law that, among its hard-to-sell provisions, requires lawmakers to disclose the names of lobbyists who “bundle” contributions for them.

Taken together, these accomplishments demonstrate that Obama has what Dillard, the Republican state senator, calls a “unique” ability “to deal with extremely complex issues, to reach across the aisle and to deal with diverse people.” In other words, Obama’s campaign claim that he can persuade us to rise above what divides us is not just rhetoric…

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at October 08, 2008 10:07 AM
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